BigiDesign Ti Pocket Pro Review & Giveaway

Pocket pens are always popular with so many people on the go. Regardless of your occupation, sex, age or other demographics there’s usually a place on your person or very close by for a pocket pen. They should be tough and they should right good.  My friends over at BigiDesign make great products, including some past versions of a great pocket pen that I reviewed.  Their new Ti Pocket Pro has raised their bar for a couple of reasons.  First it writes good, and second it’s made from Grade 5 Titanium, toughness is covered.
The Pocket Pro has some deep rings for a grip section. Grip is easy and nothing course or rough with the machining.
Branding is subtle right on the clip and the titanium clip serves it’s purpose admirable, no reinvention or technological advances needed in the clip area. My pen is the stonewashed titanium, I like the matte type finish over a perfect shiny finish that I’m always afraid to mar up in my pocket.
Refills
Any pen is only as good as it’s refill.  The Ti Pocket Pro is ready to use a variety of 80+ different refills. I couldn’t even name 80 refills if I had a google box.  Most of my preferences land in the Parker style, G2 and recently the Montblanc fineliner (Thanks @heymatthew).  The Ti Pocket Pro will take any of these easily with it’s clip tied behind it’s back. Here are a few of the most popular ones and you can see the size differences that the Ti Pocket Pro can accommodate.
Here are the ones I tried from my collection with success:
  • Monteverde Rollerball M
  • Moleskine Roller Pen Refill Gel
  • Schmidt Safety Ceramic Roller 888
  • Montblanc Fineliner
  • Uniball 207
  • Schneider Gelio 39 (Comes with)
  • Visconti Gel Ball Point .7
  • Pilot G2
  • Schmidt 9000M
  • Monteverde Ceramic Gel

The only one that surprised me was the Schmidt 8126, it was a touch too big around but I had no problem finding several that I really like including the Schneider Gelio 39 that came with it. I had never used that one before.

What makes these all work is a reversible spring, an ingenious threaded body and an auto adjusting collet for the refill tip.

The Spring

I don’t know where they sourced this from but it’s a great engineering feature. The spring diameter is different on both ends. Depending on the brand and style of your choice refill the collar will accept the smaller diameter or the larger diameter of the spring. Using the best fit keeps the spring tension right and refill rattle down. Here is a YouTube video on the proper use of the spring.

The Collet

Several of my machined pens have tip rattle that just about pushes me over the edge and regularly gets me reaching for another pen. BigiDesign has designed an auto adjusting collet that somehow finds the diameter of the refill you’re using and holds it firm. Not too firm though since this is a twist action pen and the tip has to slide in and out of the collet. Well done.  I did catch some pocket link in the tip a time or two but extracting the tip pushed it out just like any retractable tip pen. Maybe I should just wash my pants more.

The Threaded Body

Titanium pens come with squeaky threads, that’s almost universal. It’s what you take for loving titanium.  BigiDesign has coated the threads with an industrial strength PVD black coating that makes them quiet and smooth.  The threads are extra wide and only require a minimal amount of turns for retraction and adjusting the pens length for the different size refills.

Looking at the design online the concept looked pretty simple to me. Twist the body of the pen against the refill length of your choice against the tension of a spring.  My worry was how does the body stay together and not just twist apart?  Especially with a longer refill like a G2? Chadwick and team accounted for that also with a couple of O-Rings around the PVD coated body threads. It works perfectly and they even include extra O-rings in the box.  A small twist extends the tip to writing position and a reverse twist puts it back into the body ready to pocket.

Conclusion

BigiDesign has another winner with the Ti Pocket Pro. Every pen I tried from Chadwick and team have been winners. I tend to like retractable tip pens a little more for pocket carry just due to the quicker deployment by not having to deal with a separate cap.  I’m confident you’ll find a refill that works for you and in the Ti Pocket Pro perfectly.

Thanks for sticking around this long because now the chance for free stuff. The riddle is how many refills do I have left to try in my BigiDesign Ti Pocket Pro?  Ok that’s not a requirement for winning your very own BigiDesign Pen but comment your answer below or give us a good reason why you want a great BigiDesign pen.  At 8:00 est on February 27th, 2018 I will use random.org to choose a winner from all the entries. BigiDesign has been generous enough to offer a free pen to the winner. Due to the manufacturing lead times and production batch process this offer is good for in stock pens. Don’t worry, every pen they make is a great product and I appreciate them partnering with me to getting more of them out in the world!

Remember: Write something nice……

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InCoWriMo Half Way!

2018 has been a successful stationery year for me. I haven’t missed a day yet in my Hobonichi Cousin journal and I haven’t really stressed over it by staying up until midnight just to get it done. I was excited for InCoWriMo after sitting 2017 out and today I’m half way through with the 2018 version. Admittedly I had a few letters ready when I started Feb 1 and I have used a couple of those to fill in a few days that got a bit too hectic but overall all a letter out the door every day.

I have not received any responses back yet and yes once again I requested a lifetime loaner model 149 from the CEO of Mont Blanc North America in my day #6 letter. I have plenty of addresses, stamps and paper left for the month so I’m pretty confident about success.

Are you participating this year and if so how are you doing?

Remember: Write something nice……

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Crestwood Creations Roller Ball Pen Review

Gifted pens are the best. At Christmas my brother was kind enough to gift me a Crestwood Creations pen that he had worked for. It’s true worth to me is a treasured gift from my brother and as I pulled it apart after the hustle and bustle of Christmas day I was pretty impressed with the quality of the pen.

I conversed will Billy Reed, the face behind Crestwood Creations, through Social media and he has just finished up a shop remodel but he asked for referrals to his facebook page. I hope he’ll post up some pictures of other pens he has done soon. He does beautiful work.

  • Material: Wood body – Plastic and Metal mechanicals
  • Refill: Parker Size
  • Length Overall: 5 1/4″
  • Weight: 40.9 grams

This is commonly referred to as a kit pen, a maker orders a kit that includes all the pen internals from a few well-known suppliers then adds the material for the body, section and cap depending on the style of the pen. This is not as easy as it sounds and the quality of kit pens, both the inside mechanicals and the craftsmanship of the finished product varies greatly. I know because I have made kit pens and though they are fun they take some work to get just right. The quality of my builds don’t come near what Billy has put together. The model I received is called the Sierra which is a twist rollerball with a long plastic section and a beautifully finished body of cherry wood.  For the wood fans out there the burl is usually the most figuative part of the tree and provides the best character in my opinion.

Billy includes a neat little business card with the specifics of your pen. That was interesting to know the raw materials and I have a soft spot for wood pens.

The finish is thick and smooth and I don’t see any tool or finishing marks on the pen anywhere. Nice job.

The really good news for me, besides a beautifully finished pen, is the mechanicals inside take a standard parker size refill so I swapped in one of my favorites, a longtime favorite, the Schmidt 9000M. The Schmidt 8126 was a touch too big around to fit in the pen body but I like the 9000M a lot and it really turned this pen into a great writer.

Conclusion

If you reach out to Billy over at Crestwood Creations I’m sure he will enjoy working with you to make you a Sierra model or another style that you like.

Remember: Write something nice……

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InCoWriMo 2018 is Here!

I enjoy writing letters. Most of my musings are short 1 pagers that don’t reveal any federal crimes I have committed or deep thoughts but they are from my heart.  I hope they bring joy to the recipient as they bring joy to me. InCoWriMo is a way to challenge yourself to write. The acronym stands for International Correspondence Writing Month. I have been guilty of maybe not complying 100% to the international portion but I am getting stamps moving down the highways.  2017 brought me challenges and a year ago I just didn’t feel up to it.  2018 I am ready and loaded.

It starts today, February 1. If you’re reading this a few days into February not to worry you can get started anytime and I’ll let you in on a little secret. Nobody is keeping score, really.  Write to those that you’ve written to before. Write to a country you have never written to before and see how far that stamp can go. In today’s society sometimes people are not as willing to share personal addresses but there are enough PO boxes out there and with the trust we have built relationships on that will help you get a letter in somebody’s mailbox.  If you struggle with WHO to write to then head on over to the InCoWriMo website . It’s chock full of willing recipients.  WHAT to write?  Tell them about your pen ventures, tell them about your day, your week. Generally the protocol is to keep it positive and an enjoyment for the recipient. Some people use this time to build pen pal relationships, it can work if that’s your thing. You don’t need fancy paper, envelopes or expensive fountain pens. The recipient will be focused on the message and the joy that somebody,  YOU!,  took the time to write and spread some cheer.

I’ll be checking back in around the middle of the month to brag or cry about how I’m doing. So far I haven’t missed a day in my Hobonichi in 2018 so stationery wise, 2018 has been met with some stationery success, I’m hoping for the same here with 28 letters. I have cheated a little bit with 3 letters in the can on standby for busy days.

Even if you don’t write every day this month, pick up a pen, any pen and any paper and spread some joy. It’s the best value for $.50 you will find.

Oh and hello to my BUJO’ing colleague in Atlanta, thanks for stopping by for a read, you make the work place better. Expect a letter.

Remember: Write something nice……

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Karst Stone Paper 2018 Planner Review

I’m a big supporter of recycling and companies that make good decisions designing their product relative to environmental consciousness. I recycle household waste and though I’m not a strong activist I’m ok with my contribution efforts. Where I have a harder time being supportive is in the stationery area. Paper is the most obvious opportunity for using recycled or sustainable supply of raw material. Most recycled paper product just isn’t good for writing, admittedly if you’re reading this blog your standards are probably like mine and a little higher than the usual consumer of those recycled products. Read on, my opinion has changed.

I received a new planner in the mail recently from Karst Stone Paper. Here would be the text message review: Paper made from Stone. That is enough to get my interest right there.

  • Karst Stone Paper 2018 Planner
  • Paper made from recycled stone
  • Week at a glance focused format with monthly view included
  • Designed in Sydney Australia
  • Weight 17.3 oz
  • Planner price: $38.95
  • Lined Hard Cover Notebook with the same paper: $29.95
  • Pocket Journal: $11.95

Karst has made a very attractive planner with a white stiff cover and a small K logo of branding in the bottom right corner. I found the cover easy to clean and with enough texture to make it easy to hold on to. The binding is good and tight and though I would like it to lay a little flatter when it’s open the pages do not flop over by themselves so it’s a very usable construction. You feel the weight of this planner coming in at 17.3 oz. I assume that weight comes from the paper.  Belly band, inside back pocket and silver ribbon page marker are all included in the design as well.

Paper

The big difference from similar A5 journals that we know and love is on the inside: Paper made of stone, really. Karst uses the waste byproduct, calcium carbonate, from the mining and construction industries. Here is the FAQ that explains in more detail.

Writing on the paper is smooth without being slick. Ink colors are true and even with broad wet nibs I got no bleed through and just a little bit of ghosting on the back side. The paper even took a Pitt’s Artist Pen with style and grace, that’s a lot of ink. The only pen that didn’t cooperate is the Mont Blanc Fineliner. I got some spider feathering despite no feathering at all with big broad wet fountain pen nibs. A variety of fountain pens, roller balls, gel, ballpoints and pencils worked great. The only drawback I found was drying time, it was delayed with some of my favorite pens. It would not keep me from using the paper more extensively but just something to keep in mind if you tend to move fast opening your planner, jotting down an entry then closing it back up. An absorbent blotter would probably eliminate any issues. Overall an enjoyable experience to write on.

Content

The printed content of the planner is more extensive than most planners and date book type of products I have seen. Karst takes a weekly view focus and still provides a list type monthly view.

They have taken a deep approach to helping you plan and motivate you for success throughout the book. This text takes up some space but it’s easily ignored if it’s not your thing, I read through the whole thing and it’s impressive how they integrate the message of goals and positive thinking. I like the calendar formatting of the weekly view and though I’m typically a month view planner I have a few ideas for other life tracking events that I’m going to try with the Karst.

Conclusion

I applaud the Karst team for doing something really different, and so appreciate them sending this over for me to try out. I hope their success is enough to make a significant positive impact on our environment. Stone paper is cool, it was a joy to write on and I see one of their regular blank journals in my future soon.

Remember: Write something nice……

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How I Choose My Next Pen

I had my dream job for a couple of years back in the early 80’s. The office supplies buyer for a big company. That role has gone the way of big discounts with major chains but back in the day there was a fair amount of negotiations, product comparisons and competition going on and I loved it. Where I got a little sideways was probably my overzealous testing of writing instruments that we paid $.72 a dozen for, I will never forget the winning product that won based solely on price, those pens were awful and they are still sold today (Could they really be that awful then?). If we were going to buy cheap pens I wanted them to at least write good. They didn’t, and it just wasn’t a priority to the organization as a whole. I reluctantly bought into the rationale that most of the pens would have been lost, walked home or broke before they ran out of ink. In the end they proved adequate and we bought container loads of them. Another part of my job was questioning the justification of requests for higher quality pens on smaller purchase scales, we just called them “specials”. Yes I was THAT GUY that told the office admin that the company was not going to spend the money for G2’s, Uni-balls or GASP Cross pens, even for retirement gifts. I was a good corporate soldier and bought the pens I wanted to write with using my own money and even tucked my tail when a corporate exec would come over the top of the organization and demand a better writing experience at the company’s expense. Memorable times.

During that period, and still to this day, my subjective testing criteria for a pen has been fundamentally the same. I want them to lay down a solid line of ink with minimal pressure on the tip and be comfortable to hold. Nice aesthetics, as a purchase criteria, didn’t land on my checklist until many years later.

Today the writing part is pretty easy to attain as the technology has improved a lot with even cheap disposable pens from the major brands and many of the private label offerings, I still love the Staples Sonix product. Where my tastes have expanded over the years is in the aesthetics area and the source of the pen.

When I can try a pen here are my bulletized criteria. The showstoppers for me are:

  • Does the ink flow skip?
  • Does the pen require a lot pressure to get a saturated line of ink on the page?
  • Does it leak?
  • Does it start as soon as I place the tip to the paper?
  • Is the pen body and section slippery to hold?
  • Does the cap go on and off easily and have good retention while on the pen

When none of the above are issues then it gets even more subjective and I may have more leniency in these areas:

  • Do I just like the looks?
  • Is it a brand I have never tried before?
  • Is the maker somebody I like and respect or just starting out and could use the support?
  • Is it a limited edition that I am FOMO’ing over?
  • Is this a new model for the maker/brand and I just want everything they make?
  • For fountain pens how easy is it to clean?

Size comes in to play for me when I’m shopping for an enjoyment pen. I think I have average size hands for a 6’ male. I have some minor arthritis so a large pen is more comfortable for me. Both in length and diameter.

You may notice an absence of any consideration given to a clip.  I don’t clip a pen to anything so unless the clip is just hideously ugly it rarely carries any weight for my choices.

Some of these questions are ignored when I’m buying a machined pen or similar that will take standardized refills because I know the writing portion can be fixed with a Parker, G2 or D1 type refill. Additionally a fountain pen that I really fall in love with may get a pass in the ink to paper area since that can be fixed with nib tuning if all the other characteristics of the pen grab my attention. Though I have lamented before I strongly dislike buying a brand new pen that has to be sent off for nib work.

The above lists have worked well for me and I don’t seeing it changing any time in the future. The pen is a pretty simple concept. A stick with an ink reservoir.

Anything else you consider when shopping for your next pen? Maybe I’m missing something.

Remember: Write something nice……

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Uni Style Fit Multi Pen Review

My opinion of multi-pens has not changed since I reviewed the Lamy multi-pen a little over a year ago. I still think they are good utility pens that fill a niche and frankly, I’m intrigued by the mechanics of them more so than just picking one up because I enjoy writing with it, that designation is usually left for my fountain pens.

What drew me to the Uni Style Fit, that I’m sharing with you today, is the lure of 5 colors in a single pen body, yes 5! The Uni Style takes the approach of building your own multi-pen with the refills you prefer. This initial cafeteria style purchase is unique and in the end may cost you a little more but you end up with no wasted colors or refills you don’t use. You don’t need 5? There are plenty of body styles for 3 and 4 colors as well.

  • Material: Aluminum
  • Length Overall: 5 7/8
  • Weight: 7.85g
  • Street Price: $17.25 with 5 gel refills

Here is a great Uni Style Fit guide that Jet Pens put together and gives a lot of detail on the options available.

The Uni Style uses the excellent Uniball Signo ink and you can get refills in ballpoint, gel or mechanical pencil. You can even mix and match or double up on your favorite blue! The only possible drawback I found was you are locked in to their refill system. They have some excellent choices and at less than $2 a refill I think they are fairly priced. I loaded up a Pink Meister 5 series with 5 colors of .5mm gel refills. Total cost: $17.50.

I’m a deployment guy when it comes to pens. I don’t want to spend a lot of time between when I pick up a pen to the time ink hits the paper. Mainly because at my age I may forget the thought! Pushbutton knock style remains my favorite for random quick notes but with a little thought in the refill placement (See insider tip below) the Uni-Style is pretty good and the typical slotted sliders at the tail end of the pen. They are all clear so you use a clear window in the body of the pen to see which color which slider pushes out the tip. There are four sliders and the clip acts as the fifth refill slider. Ingenious and though not the fastest color chooser here is your insider tip. You can strategically place the refills you use most often and then by memory you know sliding the clip gives you blue, for example. Retraction of the tip is like most others, just partially deploy another color and everything goes back inside safe and sound.

The sliding clip doesn’t instill the most confidence in its robustness if you are hard on traditional clips but it hasn’t broke on me yet so maybe I’m being over critical and just paranoid because the clip moves. Ramp is good and even with the construction it works like a pen clip should.

The only design element I can’t grasp is what looks like a knock pushbutton on the top of the pen. It looks conventional enough but not on a multi-pen. It even pushes down a little bit but doesn’t seem to do anything. Unsolved but unimportant.

(UPDATE:  The pushbutton that I couldn’t figure out is to advance lead when you’re using the mechanical pencil refill. Thanks Kelly!)

(UPDATE 2: Underneath the pushbutton is an eraser. Nice touch. Thanks Notebook Stories for the tip off!)

Conclusion

The Uni Style is a fat pen, coming in at over ½” in diameter. It’s holding 5 pens and when I look at the wall thickness of the body I don’t know how they could make the whole assembly any thinner. I like the girth but I understand it wouldn’t be for everyone. It does slightly taper down smaller near the clip end of the pen and the overall shape gives the pen kind of a torpedo look. The taper down to the nose is gradual and the ink window is a good size.

If you have a need or application for a multi-pen the Lamy 2000 is probably the dressier more dignified sibling with its Makrolon body and black look but at way less than half the price of the Lamy the Uni Style Fit is a better writer with the Signo ink, has 5 colors and you can build it yourself with a huge selection of option al refills and pen bodies.

Read the guide

Pick a Body

Decide your refills

Place your order

Remember: Write something nice……

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Sunderland MK1 Pen Review

I own a lot of machined pens, it’s hard for makers to deliver something really different when you’re dealing with a turned tube of material that has to hold a popular standard size refill. The differences usually come in design, grips and tip retraction. I tried one out recently that pushes a few design limits with good results.  My good friend Matthew over at www.nibandink.com entrusted me with one of his favorites, the Sunderland MK1. If you don’t follow him you should @heymatthew .

The Pen

  • Anodized Aluminum
  • Available in a variety of colors and a nickel finish
  • Standard G2 Size Refills or threaded Montblanc rollerball and fineliner cartridges
  • Length Capped: 5.2”
  • Length Uncapped: 4.9”
  • Length Posted: 5.8”
  • Weight: 23 g with G2 Refill
  • Price: $80

Overall Appearance

The Sunderland is a two piece body and cap style pen with a matching finishing on both pieces. The Clip is from a solid block of stainless steel and the brushed finish is a nice looking contrast to the rest of the pen.

The body has a taper about half way down that turns the barrel to a smaller diameter to allow the cap to post. The look is different, I like the overall aesthetic that this allows where the cap remains the same diameter as most of the body.

Ergonomics

The MK1 has good balance and the aluminum makes it light. The section has some rings around it that work good as reference points for your grip and even after a couple of pages I had no strain. Additionally no exposed threads, but more on that next.

Cap

The coolest part of the pen and the single element that just might make me add one to my collection is the cap threads. They are invisible. Ok maybe not invisible but hidden. At the top of the cap the Sunderland team has figure out how to threads that screw down over the writing tip into the body threads that, you guessed it, are hidden. It looks difficult to manufacturer and it works flawlessly. Impressive.

Clip

Beautifully executed clip and one of those that looks like you would destroy the rest of the pen before the clip fails. Made of a solid block of 17-4 stainless steel. The ramp is good and the grip is tight. The clip attachment is another area that Sunderland raises the bar on fit and finish with small design elements.

Refills

The Sunderland MK1 accepts the widely available G2 style refill or MontBlanc rollerball and fineliner cartridges.  There are internal threads in the section that accept the MontBlanc style threaded cartridges. I’m convinced the Sunderland team are thread geniuses!

Conclusion

This is not an inexpensive entry into the machined pen genre but it’s definitely a step up from many in terms of construction fit and finish. Many people like the minimalist aesthetic that is popular but the Sunderland takes a different approach by adding some panache and design elements that don’t interfere with it being a great writing experience as well.

The black on my loaner was stealthy enough to be mistaken for any number of modern high production cap pens, but the similarities end there. The cap threads are just cool, the clip and it’s attachment will make you say wow and if you like the G2 format, you’re all set.

Thanks again Matthew for the test drive.

Remember: Write something nice……

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My Favorite Disposable Pens

Favorite Disposable PensIn the knife community when you pick up a knife that catches your eye at the checkout register (think gas station or rural convenience store) and admit to it that is enough to get you banned for life on the internet knife forums for buying such presumed junk quality. In the pen community when you make a good score with a gel pen that was on sale or overstocked in a funky color you get high fives across the same internet. Funny, and I enjoy the high fives a hundred times more. Usually these finds come at the checkout of the big box office supply chains. $2 seems to be the price point cap so I bite more times than not and I would say my batting average is probably a .500 with those purchases that I keep. The other approach I take is sometimes on pay day Friday I just want a pen fix so I will shop Jet Pens in sort of a game mode to get as close to $25.01 for the free shipping. This usually includes something that writes from the Whats New area. Jet Pens’ excellent service has them in my mailbox, across the country, on Monday. From both approaches the keepers that I have enjoyed are numerous so I’m sharing them with you here to fuel your ideas in case you haven’t tried any of these. Forgive the short reviews of each pen, they are disposables so my review criteria is slim, they write good, they are not uncomfortable to hold and a simple scale of 1-10 with 10 being my highest rating.

Here is what I started with

All of my disposable pens

And here we go with the top choices in no particular order:

Papermate InkJoy Gel .7

This was a big box office supply store checkout counter find. It looked interesting and I always loved the name PaperMate, those two words together just say PEN to me. I was very impressed with how it wrote and liked it so much I found one of those 14 color pen deal and bought it. The whole body is rubberized which is kind of unique.

  • Writing: 10
  • Grip: 9
  • Aesthetics: 5 plain
  • Deployment: 10 clicky

Pilot Juice .7

A new one for me but I quickly fell in love. The clip is the BEST of the bunch if that is something you use frequently.

  • Writing: 10
  • Grip: 7
  • Aesthetics: 8
  • Deployment: 10 clicky

Pentel EnerGel .7

Another drugstore stumble find and I find myself grabbing it often sitting around the house. I don’t own alot of Pentel product and I’m not sure why not.

  • Writing: 9
  • Grip: 10 fat body
  • Aesthetics: 4 Blah
  • Deployment: 10 knock

And now for the Uniball Signo Run

Uniball Signo 207
Probably my favorite grip and always a consistent writer every time I pick it up.

  • Writing: 9
  • Grip: 10
  • Aesthetics: 9
  • Deployment:10 clicky

Uniball Signo 307

There are reportedly some differences between the 207 and 307 somewhere but I can’t find them except in the looks department. They both write and grip just the same but I would bump up the 307 by 1 point in the aesthetics category as I think it’s a touch nicer looking.

  • Writing: 9
  • Grip: 10
  • Aesthetics: 10
  • Deployment: 10 clicky

Uniball Signo UM-100-.7

The longest body shortest cap of the lot with a step body that I’m not sure the purpose of but it’s a solid performer.

  • Writing: 9
  • Grip: 4 all plastic
  • Aesthetics: 4 the cap to body balance is off to me
  • Deployment: 5 cap

Uniball Signo UM-151-.5

Probably my favorite stick style pen with a cap.

  • Writing: 10
  • Grip: 8 rubber is there but firm
  • Aesthetics: 5 plain clear body
  • Deployment: 5 cap

Uniball Signo DX UM-151-.38

The smallest tip size I will go. I am surprised it writes as smooth as it does but I only use this one occasionally when I have a specific need for a really fine line.

  • Writing: 9
  • Grip: 8 firm rubber again
  • Aesthetics: 5
  • Deployment: 5 cap

Uniball Signo RT1 .5

  • Writing: 9
  • Grip: 8
  • Aesthetics: 7 kind of sleek for a disposable clicky
  • Deployment: 10 clicky

Plenty of great pens in the $2 price range and if you’re going to have pens in the car, garage and kitchen drawer why not have ones that write good!

What are your favorites?

Remember: Write something nice……

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Darkstar Collection Pocket Notebook Review

The pocket notebook appears to me, like a simple engineering product. I’m sure there is more to it than I know. Just by the brands that have passed under my nibs, ballpoints and gels I have enjoyed many well thought out features. Some of these features help us gravitate to one brand or the other. The latest to pass over my desk is from the team over at Darkstar Collection in the UK.

Darkstar’s contribution to our community comes in two formats, Pocket Notebooks and a larger Adventure Notebook. I am even seeing some rumors and IG spy photos of a hard cover.

  • 100GSM paper
  • Flexible covers available in yellow, black, orange and red
  • Printing available in Grid, Crosshair, Dot Grid and Lined at 5 mm ruling
  • Price: $9.22 US / Pack
  • Pocket Notebooks
  • – 4 x 5 ½”
  • – Pack of 3
  • – 54 pages
  • Adventure Notebooks
  • – 5 ¾ x 7 7/8”
  • – Pack of 2
  • – 72 pages

Overall Construction Fit & Finish

The version I tried out was the lined black pocket notebook. Packaging is minimal with a branding description band for point of sale. A foiled Darkstar logo is inconspicuous on the front cover which helps me orient the notebook quickly when I’m picking it up. Page one is an owner’s page and 2 staples hold it all together.

Paper and covers are cut well and clean with flawless rounded corners. The cover seems heavy enough and after a couple weeks in and out of my pocket it has held up well. I’m sure one would fill the pages before wearing anything out.

The printing is straight and fully flooded all the way to the edges. The lines appear to be a greenish gray. The lines stay out of the way but still guide my writing. Looking at it under a loupe it’s two lines of dashes right next to each other with the squares alternating in a checkerboard pattern. It’s a good look that works and a small detail that harkens to my opening paragraph and proving I really don’t have a clue what it takes to design a good pocket notebook.

Paper

At 100GSM the paper works great with any pen I use in pocket notebooks. From my broad wet Ondoro, to my gels that I usually have with me on the go and I even threw in an Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Brush pen and it worked great. Impressive.

No feathering, no bleed-through and if you look hard you can see some faint ghosting from the broader lines but I wouldn’t hesitate at all to use both sides of the page.

Drying time is good at 6-8 seconds with a wet broad fountain pen. The writing is smooth but with this dry time performance I suspect this is not a coated paper.

Darkstar Ink

This is cool. Darkstar has teamed up with Robert Oster, who is on a big popularity run right now with their ink colors. Both companies collaborated on a Blue-Back ink shade they call, of course, Darkstar Blue. I love the other RO inks I have so this just got added to my want list. Robert Oster Darkstar Blue Ink.

Conclusion

Darkstar offers a great selection of configurations for your small notebook needs. 4 printing options, 4 colors and 2 sizes. There are even some special editions they call Shine Stars. I wouldn’t change a thing about the basics of the notebook. The 100 gsm paper is wonderful and the covers are tough. If I could reach for more I would offer three suggestions to Darkstar:

  • A blank page option
  • A wider rule lined option
  • A blue cover that matches their signature ink

If implemented, none of these things make the Darkstar a better notebook, they already hit that out of the park. These would only broaden their market appeal but I understand adding a new sku is expensive and only Darkstar can determine if the cost makes sense.

Thanks again to Craig and the Darkstar team for sending these over, I am enjoying them.

The Gentleman Stationer had some good things to say about the Darkstar as well. Check out his comments here.

Remember: Write something nice……

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